Question on Coop size/location/fence (beginner)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by upstater13, Aug 21, 2014.

  1. upstater13

    upstater13 New Egg

    Aug 21, 2014
    My wife and I are looking to raise a small flock of chickens (6-10) for the first time. We are thinking a mix of Barred Rock and RI Reds. We definitely get cold winters (snow,freezing rain, wind, etc) so hardiness is pretty important. I am trying to figure out what size coop would be best as well as some info on the fenced in run.

    I have a local Amish builder who makes some pretty great coops so I was looking to go that route. Traditional sizes are 4x4, 4x6, and 4x8. I can also get an attached 3ft high run (standard size is 8x8). The area where I want to put the coop is currently thick brush, dead trees etc. I would obviously need to clear the spot for the coop and small attached run but I also want to fence in an area for them outside of the coop. I was thinking of going with the 6ft chicken mesh and burying it a couple inches.

    Can I just leave them to forage in the thick brush? Do I need to clear around where the fence will be so they can't just easily climb a small tree branch/brush and get to the top of the fence or can I just fence in a good size area all around the coop and just weave in and out of the thick stuff?

    My reasoning for the fence is to give them a larger place to forage/exercise and also try to keep the coyotes etc out. It is not feasible to put a roof/cover on the large fenced in area.

    I appreciate any guidance as I a true beginner.

  2. Free as a Bird

    Free as a Bird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 20, 2014
    New England
    I like to leave at least some thick brush for hot days and hawk protection.
    I have heard the rule 4 square feet per bird. I recommend going a little bigger to give extra space or for more chickens in the future. (I never though I would want more and ended up having to build a whole new coop!)
  3. MeepBeep

    MeepBeep Chillin' With My Peeps

    It's been repeated many times.... Chicken wire/mesh if for containing chickens, not keeping predators out... Coyotes, foxes, dogs, large cats and raccoons for example will literally rip apart chicken wire ... So your proposed 6 foot fence is OK for chicken containment, but don't fool yourself into thinking it's going to stop a predator, if they don't chew/claw trough it many will just climb over it...

    Leaving the brush is being stuck between a rock and a hard place... As said above it might deter overhead threats like hawks and it does provide the chicken some cover... But, on the flip side it also provides cover for ground predators to get in close undetected and makes your job of detecting any fence failures harder...

    A lot of it, is give and take you have to weigh in all the pros and cons and decide what works for you, but the blunt reality is if you don't keep the birds in lock down behind a fortified totally enclosed structure/coop you will almost certainly lose some to predators...
  4. ECBW

    ECBW Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2011
    TS, where should we start?? Coop sizing, location, breeds, design detail, feeding, caring, free ranging, wintering... each is a big topic with sub topics.

    If you have not already, read up on all the info on this website. Derive a strategy that suits you. Remember it is not one size fits all.

    For starter, I would suggest at least 4x6 coop for your 6-10 flock. To minimize expense, build your own coop. It it not difficult and might even be enjoyable. Using re-purposed or reclaimed material would really save money. If money is not an issue, buy a coop. I find that these coops often are not efficiently designed... too many nests, bad use of floor space.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2014
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    The 4 sqft rule is a minimum for coop space, especially if you live where you get lots of snow.
    We got tons of snow this last winter, 160" with frigid temps, and they spent many a day inside the coop all day long.
    I even had to shovel out part of the run and spread a bit of straw or they wouldn't even come outside.

    ECBW makes a good point, lots of topics with lots of options!

    My best advice.... do lots of research and have your coop built before you order chicks.
    Make both your coop and run walk in height, you'll be very glad you did.
    Space and ventilation are most important....there's a couple of links in my signature line (below this post) to great articles that'll get you started.

    You can put your location in your profile, it really helps folks give you better advice, climate can drastically change things.

    Good Luck, Have Fun...and WELCOME to BYC!

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